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Is it true that the older we get, the less sleep we get?

Older people often go to bed early and wake up very early, so we often think that the older people are, the less they need to sleep and still function well. However, studies show the opposite: older people still need to sleep like teenagers in their twenties, but they are often sleep-deprived for many reasons.
Is it true that the older we get, the less sleep we get?

Elderly people often go to bed early and wake up very early, so we often think that the older people are, the less they need to sleep and still function well. However, studies show the opposite: older people still need sleep like teenagers in their twenties, but they are often sleep deprived for many reasons. Let's dig deeper into the causes and remedies to help the adults in your family find better sleep!

1/ Needed sleep time unchanged in older adults

In fact, older people still need 7 to 9 hours of sleep like adults. However, they often have a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep than younger people. According to a survey, up to 13% of men and 36% of women over the age of 65 take more than 30 minutes to fall asleep.

In addition, the elderly often do not sleep deeply and often wake up in the middle of the night, so they need naps during the day to make up for the lack of sleep time. At the same time, because the sleep structure is changed, older people often fall asleep earlier and wake up earlier than younger people.

2/ Causes of sleep changes in the elderly:

a/ Insomnia:

Anyone can suffer from insomnia, but the rate of people over 60 years old has it up to nearly 50%. Signs of insomnia include:

  • It usually takes 30-45 minutes to fall asleep
  • Wake up many times each night
  • Wake up early and can't go back to sleep
  • Tired when I wake up

The use of drugs, nocturia, and psychological problems can all cause insomnia. In addition, being sedentary, using caffeine and alcohol, sleeping a lot during the day also affects sleep at night.

b/ Disturbance of breathing during sleep:

Snoring and sleep apnea are two common sleep breathing disorders. The main cause is that the airways from the lungs, throat, nose and mouth are narrow or completely blocked, causing us to wake up in the middle of the night. This disorder causes poor quality sleep, drowsy when waking up and also affects the person sleeping with it.

c/ Movement disorder in sleep

Two types of sleep movement disorders that are common in the elderly include restless legs syndrome and tremor syndrome. Both of these disorders cause a tingling sensation in the legs, discomfort throughout the night, or restless leg movements that interfere with sleep.

In addition, REM sleep behavior disorder is also very common in people over 50 years old. REM sleep is when dreaming occurs and our eyes are constantly moving under the eyelids, while the muscles are not moving. In people with REM sleep behavior disorder, their muscles move during the course of their dreams, waking them up, affecting their sleepers, and even making themselves they get hurt.

3/ So how to fix this situation?

Change in daily lifestyle can help improve sleep in the elderly positively. Increasing exercise, limiting the use of caffeine, alcohol, and getting more sunlight to regulate circadian rhythms are simple ways to help sleep better.

If the lack of sleep seriously affects your life, such as prolonged lethargy or drowsiness during activities, the elderly and their loved ones should see a doctor. Before coming to the doctor, you should prepare a sleep diary recording the time and quality of sleep for at least a week so that the doctor can have a better view and do not forget to bring any medications you are using.

Sleeping environment should also be improved for the best quality sleep. Bedroom should use neutral colors, suitable temperature and should be clean. Besides, should pay attention to select mattress and pillow suitable for health conditions, especially for people with spinal and respiratory diseases.

Hope you and your family members will always find a good night's sleep every day!

Source: Sleep Education, Web MD , Sleep Foundation